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3i6                              THE GAY GENIUS

it enabled him to feel more settled. "From the development of recent
events," he wrote to Cheng, "it seems there is no hope of my returning
north. But I feel quite at peace. It is not necessary to philosophise
about the vicissitudes of human life. From a very matter-of-fact point
of view, I can just imagine myself to be a scholar candidate from Hui-
chow who has failed in the examinations and decides to live in his
home town for life. What's wrong with that?*' In his letter to his good
friend Sun Shieh he said: "Since all hope of return to the north was cut
off, I have begun to regard myself as a native of Huichow." To Tsao
Fu he wrote: "I have read the recent news that the Yuanyu officials will
for ever be excluded from reappointment to office. It gives me a feeling
of security at this place and I am willing to take what comes. Now I
am exactly like a mendicant friar, except that I eat meat and drink
wine."

Now that all was final, he decided to build his house. Late that year
he wrote a long letter to Wang Kung. "I have been here for eight
months, accompanied by my youngest son and some maidservants, and
am feeling quite comfortable. Since I have been relieved of all official
duties, I feel at peace in mind and body. My son also takes a poetic
view of life. Indeed he is a chip from the old block. Ha ha! I hear
from Tseyu quite constantly and learn that he is well satisfied there.
Whether one lives north or south has all been predetermined. Nor do
I have the desire to return north. Next year I shall buy a farm and
build a house and then settle down as a citizen of Huichow."

In March of the following year, therefore, Su Tungpo began to build
his house on top of a hill standing forty feet above the east bank of the
river, quite close to the Kweishan city wall. Through periodic wars and
devastations this house has been preserved down to this day and is
known as the Chaoyun Memorial. Known in Su's works as "the house
on the White Stork Hill", it commanded a wonderful view of the river
on the north side where the water turned north-eastward. Situated on
a small plot of land about half an acre wide, and strictly confined by
the hill at its back and by sharp descent below, the plan of the house
had to suit the limited flat area available, wider at one end than at the
other. Two small houses already stood there on the city wall side,
owned by Mr. Chai and the old woman wine-brewer known as Mrs,
Lin, who were neighbours and close friends. He dug a well forty feet
deep which also greatly benefited Chai and Mrs. Lin. On the other
hand, Su Tungpo could obtain wine on credit. Later, when he was
sent away from this place, he still kept on sending presents to this old
woman.

The house was quite elaborate, containing a total of twenty "rooms",
a room being a unit of space in the Chinese language. On the small
vacant space on the south side he planted oranges, pumelos, lichi.